Dennis the Menace:
Dennis the Menace was an American sitcom that was based on Hank Ketcham’s popular newspaper comic strip of the same name, which was first published in 1951. This show first aired on October 4th, 1959 and ran until July 7th 1963 on CBS. Looking to replace Leave it to Beaver, executive producer Harry Ackerman and producer James Fonda created a pilot episode in 1958 and it became sponsored by Kellogg’s and Best Foods. The show aired on Sundays at 7:30 p.m
. EDT after Lassie and preceding The Ed Sullivan Shows. It competed with Maverick on ABC and Shirley Temple’s Storybook on NBC; and Dennis the Menace was the only show during the time spot to fall within the top 20 shows of the season according to Nielson. CBS’ Sunday nights were part of a wholesome programming block in response to allegations that the popularity of violent westerns was compromising the moral integrity of the United States.
The show was produced by Dariell Productions, Screen Gems, and Hank Ketcham Enterprises. Jay North played Dennis and continued to until he turned 11 years old, which was too old to portray the five and a half year old menace. Other characters include his father (Herbert Anderson), mother (Gloria Henry), and their elderly, grumpy neighbor Mr. George Wilson (Joseph Kearns). The show ran 26 minutes long, and ran for 4 season for a total of 146 episodes (32 episodes in the first season, then 38 per season for the 2nd-4th seasons).
The Christmas Horse (Season 2, Episode 12):
Original air date: December 25, 1960
Directed by William D. Russell; Written by William Cowley and Peggy Chantler; Produced by James Fonda
It’s Christmas, and there is nothing more that Dennis (Jay North) wants from Santa than a horse. He receives a record player instead, but there’s nothing stopping him getting that horse! Along with his best friend, Tommy (Billy Booth), he sets out to find out where Santa’s delivered his horse to. They find that their friend, Johnny (Bill Hummer), has got a pony for Christmas and is willing to trade it for a type writer. Dennis manages to procure a typewriter from his “fiancée” Margaret (Jeannie Russel), but is made to trade back by the adults. Dennis is disappointed, but finds Mr. McGuire (Ernest Truex) who is willing to sell his horse to Dennis for nickel. However, Mr. McGuire also needs to rent out a horse to “eat all the weeds” and Dennis agrees to let Mr. McGuire keep the horse in his stables for a Nickle. They seal the deal with a contract and Dennis excitedly returns home to show his family that he is indeed the proud owner of a horse. The episode ends with the characters singing “Silent Night” while on a carriage ride.